Dental tips for your Dog

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With rare exceptions, puppies are born without teeth. The first teeth to erupt are the incisors, at 2 to 3 weeks of age. Next are the canines and premolars. The last premolar erupts at about 8 to 12 weeks of age. As a rule, the teeth of larger breeds erupt sooner than those of smaller breeds. The average puppy has 28 deciduous (temporary or baby) teeth. The deciduous teeth remain for only three to seven months.  Starting at about 3 months the first permanent teeth start to come in. By 7 to 8 months of age, a puppy should have all the adult teeth.

We all know bad breath—also known as halitosis—when we smell it. Bad breath is the result of a build-up of odor-producing bacteria in your dog’s mouth, lungs or gut. Persistent bad breath can indicate that your dog needs better dental care or that something is wrong in his gastrointestinal tract, liver or kidneys. In all cases, halitosis is a red flag that should be investigated. Most often, bad breath is caused by dental or gum disease, and certain dogs—particularly small ones—are especially prone to plaque and tartar. However, persistent bad breath can also indicate larger medical problems in the mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or organs.

Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:

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  • First get your dog used to the idea of having the teeth brushed. Massage the lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to the teeth and gums.
  • When your pet seems comfortable with just having your fingers massaging the teeth and gums, put a little bit of dog-formulated toothpaste on the lips to get them used to the taste.
  • Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs-it should be smaller than a human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog’s gums.
  • Finally, apply the toothpaste to the teeth for a gentle brushing.
  • A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog’s gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt the gums.

Ask us about a specially formulated dry food, treats, or dental chews that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar.